Ra4w VPN Review (2019): What Are They Thinking?

Ra4w is currently a terrible VPN with a terrible name. It only started in 2013, and the speeds and price are promising, so perhaps bigger things are ahead?

PROS

  • Slightly above average speeds
  • Extremely cheap
  • Excellent encryption

CONS

  • DNS leaks
  • No kill switch
  • Small network
  • Only Windows app
  • Terrible UI
  • Half servers don’t work
  • No Netflix
  • Very limited torrenting

Speed & Expectations 

To measure speed, we tested the 3 main speed indicators:

  1. Download speed: The rate at which data is transferred from the server to your device. This is measured in megabytes per second (mbps) and a higher number is better.
  2. Upload speed: The rate at which data is transferred to the server from your device. This is also measured in megabytes per second (mbps) and a higher number is better.
  3. Ping (or latency): Tested by “pinging” the server, it’s the amount of time it takes for it to receive and process your request. This is measured in milliseconds (ms) and a lower number is better.

First we ran a baseline test using a default 100mbps internet connection in Chicago, IL.

Then we tested various Ra4w servers across the globe.

We ran each test 5 times to increase reliability.

Speed results

These are the results of our baseline test:

So the average baseline score was:

  • Download: 85mbps
  • Upload: 14.3mbps
  • Ping: 9.4ms

Next we ran our tests on a Ra4w VPN United States server:

US averages of the 5 different speed tests were:

  • Download: 39.4mbps (53.6% slower) 
  • Upload: 18.6mbps (29.7% faster)
  • Ping: 71ms (655.3% longer)

(You would expect these to give the fastest results since we’re performing the tests in the US).

Next we tested Europe:

Europe’s averages were:

  • Download: 42mbps (50.6% slower)
  • Upload: 9.8mbps (31.8% slower)
  • Ping: 104.8ms (1014.9% longer)

Here’s Asia:

Asia’s averages were:

  • Download: 5.5mbps (93.6% slower)
  • Upload: 21.2mbps (47.8% faster)
  • Ping: 219.4ms (2234% longer)

And finally Africa:

Africa’s averages were:

  • Download: 36.9mbps (56.6% slower)
  • Upload: 7.8mbps (45.7% slower)
  • Ping: 255.2ms (2614.9% longer)

Sadly, Ra4w VPN doesn’t have any South American servers.

We also compared these results against the average of other VPN tests. How does Ra4w measure up?

First up, let’s take a look at download speeds:

VPNUSEuropeAsiaS.AmericaAfrica
Ra4w-54%-51%-94%n/a-57%
Betternet13%-7%-28%2%n/a
Private Tunnel-19%-66%-69%n/an/a
IVPN-23%-45%-67%n/an/a
Avira Phantom-41%-97%-98%-75%n/a
Speedify-6%-39%-73%-69%-69%
ZoogVPN-59%-74%-80%-98%-87%
NortonVPN-34%-68%-72%-29%n/a
SurfEasy-43%-61%-65%-37%n/a
Celo VPN-75%-93%-93%n/an/a
proXPN-52%-73%-74%n/an/a
X-VPN-71%-75%-99%-62%n/a
SpyOFF-66%-57%-76%-65%-63%
VPN.ht-48%-78%-68%-67%-67%
vpn.ac-52%-51%-67%-47%n/a
Tiger VPN-48%-68%-68%-55%-72%
VPN Unlimited-27%-77%-79%-64%-61%
Cyberghost-35%-59%-71%-56%-68%
Torguard-37%-58%-81%-60%-67%
ProtonVPN-35%-50%-56%-77%-54%
PureVPN-26%-68%-94%-32%-89%
Trust.Zone-14%-99%-80%-66%-82%
AVG Secure VPN-56%-87%-69%-75%-68%
Hoxx VPN-12%-96%-93%n/a-68%
VPNSecure-68%-93%-98%-61%-77%
IPVanish-36%-54%-72%-76%n/a
NordVPN-40%-99%-69%-58%-75%
ExpressVPN-71%-58%-64%-95%-67%
Avast-45%-63%-72%-66%-77%
Windscribe-44%-57%-80%-98%-73%
Average-40.8%-67.4%-75.6%-61.9%-70.6%

Download speeds are above average in Europe and Africa, but below average in the US and Asia. In Asia, there’s a staggering 94% drop in speed.

Next, how did upload speeds compare?

VPNUSEuropeAsiaS.AmericaAfrica
Ra4w30%-32%48%n/a-46%
Betternet24%16%12%55%n/a
Private Tunnel75%-15%13%n/an/a
IVPN77%-83%108%n/an/a
Avira Phantom252.9%-87%-60%-30%n/a
Speedify-36%-40%-29%-34%-25%
ZoogVPN117%24%50%3%24%
NortonVPN161%38%59%9%n/a
SurfEasy-4%-17%-50%-2%n/a
Celo VPN-35%-30%-40%n/an/a
proXPN-7%-15%-52%n/an/a
X-VPN-33%-61%-98%-77%n/a
SpyOFF-9%-18%-88%-52%-50%
VPN.ht-10%-17%-25%-23%-63%
vpn.ac-6%-18%-44%-16%n/a
Tiger VPN-3%-14%-20%-17%-42%
VPN Unlimited-13%-39%-85%-19%-56%
Cyberghost-8%-16%-92%-37%-48%
Torguard-9%-20%-35%-22%-41%
ProtonVPN-2%-15%-20%-41%-29%
PureVPN13%2.5%-54%-11%-72%
Trust.Zone-13%-45%-67%-28%-84%
AVG Secure VPN-19%-58%-75%-80%-77%
Hoxx VPN-5%-90%-24%n/a-51%
VPNSecure-9%-19%-92%-26%-56%
IPVanish-5%-19%-84%-22%n/a
NordVPN-13%-46%-26%-16%-70%
ExpressVPN-9%-24%-34%-72%-42%
Avast-13%-42%-78%-70%-77%
Windscribe-6%-17%-52%-97%-53%
Average16.1%-27.2%-34.5%-30.2%-50.4%

Upload speeds fare a lot better, with way above average speeds in the US and Asia due to impressive speed increases. Africa is just above average, whilst Europe is just below average.

And finally latency:

VPNUSEuropeAsiaS.AmericaAfrica
Ra4w655%1015%2234%n/a2615%
Betternet19%1164%2485%1483%n/a
Private Tunnel33%1046%2150%n/an/a
IVPN36%1321%2572%n/an/a
Avira Phantom35%1147%2322%1596%n/a
Speedify506%1160%2604%1689%3051%
ZoogVPN386%1931%4176%5004%6194%
NortonVPN194%1569%2276%1426%n/a
SurfEasy-9%792%1711%1058%n/a
Celo VPN915%1161%1654%n/an/a
proXPN194%996%2194%n/an/a
X-VPN-28%397%837%560%n/a
SpyOFF213%944%4278%2533%2598%
VPN.ht273%785%1667%1282%2109%
vpn.ac60%388%968%487%n/a
Tiger VPN9%895%1786%1105%2309%
VPN Unlimited33%935%3946%1411%2535%
Cyberghost27%1085%2344%1352%2415%
Torguard7%1036%2023%1384%2502%
ProtonVPN17%810%1840%1185%2017%
PureVPN-23%708%489%1018%1823%
Trust.Zone104%1206%2438%1396%2750%
AVG Secure VPN1021%1111%2419%3560%3336%
Hoxx VPN566%1098%2470%n/a2794%
VPNSecure281%1051%2519%1530%2917%
IPVanish240%1038%4144%1424%n/a
NordVPN34%1278%2328%1560%2696%
ExpressVPN98%965%2122%1545%2461%
Avast33%1133%2465%1556%2815%
Windscribe310%1018%1904%2042%2782%
Average208%1039.4%2312.2%1632.8%2774.7%

Latency was just above average in Europe, Asia and Africa, but well below average in the US.

Speed (Summary)

Ra4w VPN has slightly above average speeds overall, with inconsistent speeds in terms of regions. Uploads were above average, but downloads and latency were around average.

Performance & Features

In this section we look at the key features all VPNs have and see how Ra4w matches up.

Number of servers: 33

How many active servers are available to connect to across all countries, regardless of their physical location.

This is extremely low, as most quality VPNs have a few hundred at least. Most VPNs are working hard to build their server base, but support staff say they’re actually planning to reduce the number to 25. Crazy.

Number of countries: 23

How many countries the total number of servers cover, regardless of how many are located in a single country.

Again this is very low. However, the spread is better than expected for such a low country count, with quite a few Asian countries: Singapore, India, Japan, Korea and Australia.

There’s even a couple in Russia, which is highly unusual due to the high censorship. No South American servers though.

Number of connections allowed: 1-2

How many devices can be connected to a server (or number of servers) based on a single VPN account or subscription.

This is almost criminally low. In order to get 2 devices, you have to commit to the 2 year plan. If not, you’re stuck with just one. The average offered by VPNs is 3, and some like Windscribe offer unlimited connections.

Torrenting allowed: Yes (2 servers).

Ra4w only allows torrenting on 2 servers, Singapore and Sydney, which is very poor. Torrentors will probably want to look elsewhere. Many VPNs offer full access torrenting, such as IPVanish.

Kill switch available: No.

Whether the VPN software can disable your connection to the network in the event you disconnect from the VPN server. This prevents your IP address from being exposed.

Ra4w doesn’t have a kill switch, a great disappointment. Most quality VPNs do these days.

Performance and Features (Summary)

Ra4w scores very low in this section, with an extremely small server network and barely any torrenting or connections. There’s also no kill switch.

Privacy & Security

Is Ra4w VPN secure and trustworthy?

First let’s look at the technical aspects:

Protocols/Encryption: OpenVPN protocol with AES-256 encryption

Ra4w uses AES-256 encryption, which is currently one of the best available and industry-standard. It combines this with the OpenVPN protocol, which is again generally regarded as the best option, particularly as it’s open-source.

So Ra4w do very well here.

The only thing they don’t offer is more protocol choice, which some advanced users may prefer if they’re willing to sacrifice security for speed.

DNS leaks: Yes.

IP leaks: None found.

WebRTC leaks: None.

Viruses/Malware: 2 false positives.

Two potential issues popped up, but from only 2 out of 68 engines, and the flagged different problems. It’s highly likely these are false positives, otherwise most of the screenshot above would be red.

Legal issues

Jurisdiction: Nevada, USA. The US is always a tough location to sell VPN-wise, as it’s a founding member of 5-eyes and 14-eyes, which basically means 14 countries have data-sharing agreements. The USA also has a reputation for secret surveillance and intrusive laws which means the VPN could hand over any data they have on you without you even knowing.

Logging policy: No logs?

Ra4w has one of the most amateur privacy policies I’ve come across.

That screenshot is literally it.

Normally logging policies are a lot more detailed.

It says it doesn’t log anything except email address, payment information, and temporary cookies, which is extremely minimalistic.

However, I would be wary about trusting it with such a lack of detail.

It also uses the Apache Webserver, which says it collects everything from IP address to browsing history and session times. However, this only seems to be if you visit the Ra4w website or email them. It doesn’t seem to be related to the VPN software itself.

Privacy and Security Summary

Ra4w uses an excellent encryption and protocol. Its logging policy claims no logs for its software but is extremely brief, and it’s based in the US which isn’t ideal. Unfortunately, we found multiple DNS leaks.

Usability

This section looks at the following aspects:

  • Streaming/Geo-spoofing
  • Compatibility
  • Overall UI/UX

Streaming/Geo-spoofing

Geo-spoofing streaming services is a great benefit of using a VPN, but many struggle to trick Netflix and like nowadays. Let’s see how Ra4w fares.

  • Netflix: Detected. Netflix didn’t work on any servers.
  • Hulu: Detected. Unfortunately, Hulu was also blocked.
  • YouTube: Undetected. YouTube worked fine on all servers.
  • Kodi: Undetected. Kodi worked fine with Ra4w.

Compatibility

Is Ra4w compatible with most devices?

We tested everything from Tor, iOS devices, Android devices, Smart TV’s, Amazon Firestick, Mac, Windows, to routers:

  • Tor browser: Supported. Tor works fine in conjunction with Ra4w.
  • iOS (iPad, iPhone): Not Supported. Unfortunately, Ra4w doesn’t have an iOS app.
  • Android: Not Supported. Same for Android.
  • Smart TV’s: Not Supported.
  • Amazon Firestick: Not Supported.
  • Windows: Supported. Ra4w has a Windows app.
  • Mac: Supported. Ra4w has a Mac app.
  • Routers: Not Supported. 

Overall UX/UI

Ra4w’s interface looks like something out of the 80s, even though it was first released in 2013.

It’s just terrible…unattractive, cluttered, confusing.

The all green color scheme isn’t a great choice either, as most VPNs use green to signify that you’re connected to the VPN.

Here, you’ve got to read the text at the top to work it out.

What’s more, the software never appears in your list of programs; you have to locate and open the download file each time. Weird.

The window is strange too. It appears to be a normal taskbar window, but if you minimize it disappears from the taskbar and hides in the system tray.

The server list is a tiny, crammed dropdown with no scrollbar. The countries are listed in alphabetical order, though by domain name rather than their actual name.

Cities are also included, which is nice, but there’s a lot of unnecessary text in the server names.

There’s no other functionality to the server list, although it is very small.

When you select a server, you have to click the ‘Connect’ button for it to start connecting.

Connection times are fairly fast, when they work. Half their servers don’t actually work, which they boldly admit on a status page on their website.

There’s no notification outside of the interface when you’re connected. Again, the only thing to go on is the text.

The main interface shows your new IP address. It’s supposed to show some download/upload data, but this never really worked for us.

You can change servers easily enough once you work it out; you have to click the connect/disconnect button twice. If you just select a new server, nothing will change.

Outside of the main screen, there’s also a statistics panel that shows one more stat and a connection log.

There’s only 2 settings, and neither are what you’d expect.

You can install a Windows Tap Adapter, and create a configuration file.

No kill switch, protocol options, auto-connect, multi-hop, stealth, split tunneling or anything else close to what you normally see.

Not to mention, these 2 settings are extremely overwhelming for beginners.

That’s it for the software, and there’s no mobile apps to test.

Usability (Summary)

It’s another strikeout for Ra4w in this section with no Netflix or Hulu, only desktop apps, and a terrible interface. There’s no useful settings and half the servers don’t work.

Pricing & Refunds

Ra4w has 1 month, 1 year and 2 year options.

All the options are incredibly cheap compared to the competition.

The list of ‘benefits’ listed are laughable though, such as ‘Windows Application’ and ‘Encrypted’, which are the absolute basics of a VPN.

The only actual difference between the pricing options isn’t listed here. If you sign up for 2 years, you get a very ungenerous 2 connections. Otherwise, it’s just one.

This cheapness also comes at a price; there’s absolutely no trial or money-back guarantee.

The only way they provide refunds is if there’s serious issues like a defective product, and even then you have to request it within 7 days. This doesn’t apply for virtual currencies.

This will understandably put people off the longer commitment options.

Speaking of which, Ra4w offers 3 payment options: card, Paypal, and as a pleasant surprise, a wide range of cryptocurrencies.

Pricing (Summary)

Ra4w is very cheap with 1 month, 1 year and 2 year options, but there’s no trial or money-back guarantees. You can pay by crypto though, as well as card or Paypal.

Support

The only support Ra4w offer is email via a ticketing system.

They answered some of our questions satisfactorily, but some answers were obscure or incorrect.

For example, for smart device support they say ‘more advanced users can configure’ without giving more details or a link.

When I asked how many connections are allowed, they said ‘up to 5’, again with no details. This is incorrect, as the max they seem to offer is 2.

Regarding kill switches, instead of a straight-up yes or no, they say ‘native OpenVPN has a kill switch built-in’. However, we tested the software and there definitely isn’t a working kill switch.

On top of this, they also took 2 days to get back to us, despite claiming they have 24/7 support.

Overall, it’s hard to trust their answers as correct.

They also have a knowledgebase.

However, it’s extremely small. You can see almost all of the articles on one page, most of which are accounts or billing-related.

There’s just 2 general articles available, basically only covering torrenting.

So you can’t really find anything out about the service through here, for example streaming, number of connections, protocols, encryption. None of it’s covered.

The exception to this is the technical area, where’s there’s quite a few articles covering various errors.

The advice here is a bit hit and miss, but some have some useful tips.

Ra4w also has a handy network status page, but shockingly half their servers aren’t working.

This wasn’t a short temporary glitch either; it seems they’ve just given up on half their network.

Support (Summary)

Ra4w only has email support via a ticketing system, and it claims to be 24/7 but took 2 days to reply to us. The quality of the answers were mixed.

The knowledgebase is overall very sparse. There’s a network status page, which shows half their servers don’t work.

What Do Other Reviewers Say?

What does the rest of the internet have to say about Ra4w VPN? Here’s a summary of other reviews.

Most agreed the server network was very small, although one said it was average, and another said the countries themselves were diverse.

Unlike us, other reviewers had absolutely no issues with Ra4w’s logging policy, calling it crystal clear, strictly no-logs, and one of the major plus points of the VPN.

Many pointed out the less-than-ideal US location, but one said they weren’t worried due to the logs policy. 

Technically, they all praised the encryption and protocol as entirely safe and virtually impenetrable. One even described Ra4w as having the highest quality servers and networking equipment available.

However, like us the vast majority found DNS leaks. One review tried the solution to this on their knowledgebase, but found it didn’t work. 

Like us almost all found no Netflix, Hulu or iPlayer access, which all found a real shame. One however managed to unblock Netflix UK, and oddly Netflix US via a Japanese server.

Surprisingly, a lot stated that Ra4w had unlimited torrenting, which obviously must have changed since. One said it was heavily restricted, recommending Romania and Russia, which wasn’t ideal security-wise from their point of view.

Also, many stated Ra4w had unlimited connections, as long as you connect to different servers, which they were very impressed by. Ra4w must have changed their policy on this recently.

Speeds varied wildly. Some found below average speeds, but most said it was average and good enough for streaming. However, a couple said they found good to very fast speeds.

A big difference was the UI. Some really liked it, and most agreed it was very easy to use. One even said the installation was easy and simple, and there were no server issues. However, one said it was hideous and outdated, and there were no settings appropriate for advanced users.

Most reviewers had better support experiences. Some said the response times were extremely quick, between 2 minutes and a few hours, and were detailed and helpful. One said this was better than having subpar live chat. They also thought the knowledgebase covered a wide range of topics.

All agreed the prices were very cheap, however most quoted even lower prices than us, so Ra4w have obviously increased them slightly. Ra4w also used to have a lifetime subscription for $29.99.

Most found this to be an insane deal, though one was concerned as lifetime deals have a bad reputation. All criticised the lack of a real money-back guarantee.

What Do Other Reviewers Say (Summary)

Most rated it good to excellent. Overall, they liked the encryption, logging policy, support, easy to use app, torrenting (outdated), unlimited connections (outdated), crypto. They didn’t like the small network, DNS leaks and lack of kill switch.

Our Verdict

There’s very little to like here. Ra4w appears to be an unkempt VPN that’s lost all direction.

Half the servers don’t work in an already tiny server network, and they don’t seem to care. DNS leaks are abound. The interface is awful, both in looks and functionality.

There’s literally only a Windows app, and they can’t even be bothered to maintain it.

On top of this there’s no real great features, with no streaming, hardly any torrenting, and no configuration.

It does have top-notch encryption, but that’s kind of nullified by the leaks. It also has slightly above average speeds, which is a nice surprise.

At least the price is in line with expectations. However, it’s so bad it’s not worth paying anything for it in our opinion.

Based on older reviews, the VPN seems to have deteriorated recently in terms of server performance and features, rather than improving.

We wouldn’t recommend it and rate it 1 out of 5.


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